St. Johns County commits to more than $100M for new parks package
St. Johns County is getting closer to spending $123M on five new parks. Image via St. Johns County.

Work on the new facilities will begin this year and should be complete in 2026.

St. Johns County is moving forward with a plan to spend about $123 million dollars on developing five new parks and community centers across the county.

The County Commission approved the proposal while directing county administrative staff to begin organizing a team to determine how to finance the additional parks. Two library hubs will be included in the spending plan as well. County staff will present the spending plan to County Commissioners later this year.

“We took the first big step towards meeting the needs for recreation space in St. Johns County,” said St. Johns County Commissioner Christian Whitehurst, who has been advocating the park additions for about three years. “It’s exciting to think about how this will not only benefit children who live here today, but future generations of children that will call St. Johns County their home.”

The new regional additional parks plan will be on top of parks commitments St. Johns County has already made, for a total financial commitment of more than $200 million over a five-year span. The latest additions are expected to get under construction by the end of this year and should be completed in 2026.

St. Johns County Director of Parks and Recreation Ryan Kane said the Commission’s commitment to adding new parks to one of Florida’s fastest growing areas is unprecedented for the county.

“Since COVID, we have begun a journey of investing in parks and additional recreational and sports opportunities for those who live and visit St. Johns County. The amount of investment this board has made to the community’s parks and athletic infrastructure is nothing I have seen,” Kane said.

The new park facilities to be developed in the next two years include:

— Northeast Community Park ($43M): Fields for baseball, softball, and multipurpose uses, pickleball and sand volleyball courts, splash pad, picnic pavilions, and a community center with indoor space to support the Supervisor of Elections and a full-service public library,

— Central Sportsplex ($42M): Five multipurpose fields with synthetic turf fields, three natural grass multipurpose fields, areas designated for tailgating, ticketing and food trucks, and grandstands with a press box.

— Central Community Park ($13M): Indoor space for recreational programs and to support the Supervisor of Elections and St. Johns County Public Library System services, courts for pickleball and basketball, a recreational field, a splash pad and two playgrounds.

— Northwest Community Park ($22.4M): Fields for baseball and softball, courts for pickleball and sand volleyball, a community center with a designated area for library services, and picnic pavilions.

— Davis Park Turf Fields ($3M): Conversion of softball fields to baseball and to turf fields, as well as additional parking amenities.

The latest commitment comes some two weeks after St. Johns County Commissioners approved a new public awareness campaign to reduce vandalism at public parks. The “Enjoy, Don’t Destroy” program was developed to combat an estimated $75,000 in damage caused by vandalism at the county’s public parks since the beginning of 2023.  An official launch of the campaign will take place during a public event April 5.

Drew Dixon

Drew Dixon is a journalist of 40 years who has reported in print and broadcast throughout Florida, starting in Ohio in the 1980s. He is also an adjunct professor of philosophy and ethics at three colleges, Jacksonville University, University of North Florida and Florida State College at Jacksonville. You can reach him at [email protected].


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